“The [Former Sodium Disposal Facility], otherwise known as the “FSDF” or “Sodium Burn Pit”, was constructed in the early to middle 1950s and used to clean metallic sodium test components via direct contact with water,” reads a Department of Energy document on one of the most controversial and contaminated sites in Area IV of Boeing’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory, commonly known as Rocketdyne. “It was also used as an open disposal site to burn lab trash and combustible liquid waste, such as oil. The facility was active from 1956 to 1978.”

“In the old days, Rocketdyne workers would chuck barrels of sodium into two water-filled pools and fire guns at the containers to burn off wastes (sodium mixed with water ignites spontaneously),” we wrote for LA Weekly in a 1999 article called “Toxic Spring.” “Left behind in the process were PCBs, dioxin, mercury, the rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate and radioactive contagions, according to [the Department of Toxic Substances Control].”

660 tons of radioactive soil and debris were excavated from the Sodium Burn Pit and trucked to a licensed nuclear dump, Envirocare, in Tooele County, Utah. This land is supposed to become parkland or open space by 2017 after full remediation.

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20 years of ongoing SSFL/Rocketdyne investigative reporting
June 1998June 2018